Bill Moyers
April 4, 2014
Bill Moyers Essay: ‘McCutcheon’ Means “All the Free Speech You Can Buy”

Bill Moyers:

Fortunate for any of us who believe this country should be about fair play and justice, Saru Jayaraman and those waiters, busboys, and cooks reinforce our faith that organized people can counter organized money. But they are going to need all the hope and heart they can muster. So are we.

The fight to save our democracy from the clutches of plutocrats just got harder. Here in New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo of the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and legislators from both parties, killed a commission investigating political corruption and aborted a promising plan for a more level playing field in state elections.

They did so while handing “wealthy individuals in wealthy communities” -- the biggest contributors to elections --some very big tax breaks.

And in Washington, as you’ve heard by now, in the McCutcheon case, the Supreme Court five -- the pro-corporate bloc -- struck down limits on how much money can be given to candidates, parties and political action committees.

One prominent right-winger says the justices merely “reinstated the first amendment for all Americans.” But by doubling down on their earlier ruling in the infamous Citizens United case, which equates money with speech, the justices have decreed that you are entitled to all the free speech you can buy. Just like the Koch brothers.

The prevailing myth in America has been that the rich have a right to buy more homes, More cars, more gizmos, vacations and leisure. But they don’t have the right to buy more democracy. The Supreme Court just laid that myth to rest, and the new gilded age roars in triumph.

But we, the people, should not cower or give in to despair. Those restaurant workers aren't quitting. They have summoned a spirit from deep within our past, when those early insurgents stood against imperial authority. Believing that: When injustice becomes law, defiance becomes duty.

At our website,, we’ll show you some ways you can get involved. And there's more about the fight for a living wage.

That’s all at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

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